July is starting out as a pretty good month already, with relief from the unbelievable record heat, the lifting of Covid restrictions as we cross the 70% statewide vaccination mark, and a holiday weekend with friends and family.
Although I haven’t fished in July yet, I had some good time on the water in June. On the 15th, I went on a half day shad fishing trip at Willamette Falls with Rob Crandall of Water Time Outfitters. The shad run was solid this year, with almost 5.5 million fish counted at the Bonneville Dam as of this writing, and my fishing was close to nonstop with 39 shad hooked and 32 landed. It may be true that their highest and best use is serving as crab bait, but shad are a lot of fun on a 5-weight or 6-weight rod.
Just after the solstice, club member Rick Pay and I joined six other angling friends for a three day float chasing wild rainbows on the Grande Ronde River in Eastern Oregon. It was our fourth time on this trip with Craig Hughson’s crew from North West River Outfitters in Lebanon, Oregon, and the fishing was quite good. Our previous trips were challenging due to high, fast water from popup thunderstorms or late spring snowmelt in the Wallowas, but this year we put in with the water running at barely 3,000 cfs, which is just over half as much as usual. Although the river was still flowing quickly due to the steep gradient, the lower water levels meant we could find fish all over the river instead of only tight against the banks.
This is a stonefly trip, with chubby Norms, regular Norm Woods, stimulators, Clark’s stones, and other dry fly patterns as the primary choices, often in two-fly rigs. Eats were mainly on the surface, but a drowned size 10 stimulator or other smaller dropper fly often attracted attention from the fish. A few times when the bite slowed, we had luck switching to a large caddis dropper. Our group found a number of larger fish this year, with quite a few in the 17”-19” range and a handful that broke the 20” mark. Most of the fish were rainbows but several bull trout and pikeminnow were located too.
The Grande Ronde is a beautiful river that well deserves its Wild and Scenic designation, but it is not always easy to appreciate the surroundings. We fished from a moving boat the entire time, which results in tunnel vision as you constantly look for the next casting target, so it requires a deliberate effort to relax and take in the gorgeous rimrock and varied wildlife viewing opportunities. Sightings included bald eagles, golden eagles, and a mountain goat high on the rim. And one evening at camp we watched a group of bighorn sheep make their way down the opposite side of the canyon to drink from the water’s edge. All in all a wonderful trip.
I’m very happy to report that annual club picnic is back on the calendar this year. We will meet on Tuesday August 10 at the Westmoreland casting pond in Sellwood. More details to follow but program chair Mike Radakovich is putting together a great event. In addition, we will resume live, in-person dinner meetings at the University Club beginning in September. In addition, the 60th Anniversary Creel Committee continues to work on the organization and layout of the upcoming commemorative issue which will be presented to the members at our December holiday meeting.
On a final note, your current club board is ready for some new blood. I am honored to be in my third year as club president but the demands of my law practice have increased so I am actively seeking a replacement candidate for 2022. A number of other club and foundation members have served for many years and are also looking to devote their energies to new projects. Serving as a club or foundation director is a great opportunity to learn more about the club and its nonprofit organization. If you have any interest in volunteering, please let me know.
In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying the glorious summer weather and getting out and about to do some fishing.